(7) If the second test is negative (and if the control is positive), assume that
the first test was accidentally contaminated during culturing. The sterilizer is functioning
properly and may be placed back in operation.
2-12. STERILIZING DENTAL ITEMS
a. Preparing the Sterilizer for Use. First, the sterilizer power cord is plugged
into a power source. Then, the water reservoir is filled with distilled water until the water
level reaches the FULL indicator. The reservoir cover is put back on. Next, the
chamber is filled with water from the reservoir by rotating the power switch to FILL. The
water must be level with the indicator mark and the process is verified visually. (Note
that the heating element is located in the chamber of the autoclave. The autoclave
must be level so that the heating element is covered with water.) When the chamber is
properly filled, the power switch is turned to OFF.
b. Loading the Sterilizer Trays. The packages are placed on the trays. The
packages are placed on their sides to prevent cross-contamination of the instruments.
The packages are never stacked one on the other. Packages are arranged loosely to
allow steam to circulate between packages. Nonporous items and thinner items are
placed in the topmost tray. The thickest, most dense packages are placed in the bottom
tray. When the trays are loaded, the trays are placed in the autoclave chamber. When
testing of the sterilizer is done, the sterilization monitors (e.g. spore vials) are inserted in
the center of the thickest packages to be sterilized.
c. Operating the Sterilizer. The sterilizer door is closed and secured. The
sterilizer is preheated by turning the power control knob to STERILIZE. The timer is set
for 15 minutes. As soon as the temperature is at the required temperature (250F) and
pressure (15 psi), the sterilization cycle can begin. The timer is reset for 30 minutes
and the sterilizer is allowed to complete the cycle. When it has finished, the autoclave
is vented (if required), the chamber door is opened, and the contents are allowed to dry.
Be careful to stand to the side when opening the door because of steam release and be
careful not to touch the metal part of the sterilizer. Then, the load information is logged
into the sterilizer logbook.
2-13. STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE OF STERILE ITEMS
a. Safe Storage. Proper sterilization and disinfection techniques are of little
value unless proper attention is directed to the safe storage of sterile items. Sterile
packs should be visually inspected prior to use. Packs stored beyond their expiration
date or suspected of being contaminated must be rewrapped and sterilized. The
manufacturer's instructions should be strictly followed when storing commercially
prepared presterilized items. Cabinets used to store sterile packs must be cleaned and
disinfected monthly. The cleaning and disinfecting must be documented using a log.